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L.A. County Reports Rise In Covid-19 Cases, 99% Of Which Are Among The Unvaccinated 

Los Angeles County health officials reported that Monday marked the fourth consecutive day in which 1,000 new Covid-19 cases have emerged. The officials also claimed that these cases were all appearing among unvaccinated individuals almost exclusively. 

The Department of Public Health for LA County reported 1,059 new cases this Monday. Last Friday they reported 1,044 cases, followed by 1,069 on Saturday, and 1,113 more on Sunday. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer released a statement this week on the increase in cases. 

“Over 99% of the COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths we are seeing are among unvaccinated individuals.”

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These new cases are worrying many experts due to the fact that before this point, the county was doing relatively well in their fight against Covid-19. The week before June 26th, LA county reported an average of less than 250 new cases a day, consecutively. That number has now more than tripled in just two short weeks.

State data has shown that 376 patients had to be hospitalized due to their symptoms; the highest number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients the county has seen since May. Reported deaths still remain low, however, health officials noted that it can take weeks for an increase in viral transmission to reflect in the number of fatalities. 

Areas in LA county where the percentage of fully vaccinated people is high continue to have lower rates of new Covid-19 cases. Throughout the past week the entire state of California has reported an average of 2,100 new cases a day; this is a 124% rise when compared to two weeks ago. 

More than 59% of Californians have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, while millions have still neglected to receive their vaccine; either because they’re too young, or have chosen not to get it. 

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Health experts are now labelling the Covid-19 crisis as a “tale of two pandemics,” one in which vaccinated people can enjoy a higher degree of protection, while unvaccinated individuals remain vulnerable and exposed. Dr. Tomás Aragón, state public health officer and director of the California Department of Public Health, recently gave a statement on the importance of getting vaccinated. 

“Although California’s vaccination rates are among the highest in the country, we must stay vigilant against COVID-19 and its variants. That means motivating the remaining Californians to get vaccinated, and encouraging our friends and families too.”

Ferrer added that “the work in front of us is to improve confidence in these vaccines among people who are not yet vaccinated, and we will try lots and lots of different strategies with all of our partners.”

“The most successful strategy to date is making sure that people are getting their information from other people that they trust, and working to build out those teams of folks that are in the neighborhoods that can be trusted and have good information remains one of the most important strategies. So we’ll continue to do that while we make sure that access remains as easy as possible,” she explained.

New iPhone Health App Feature Lets Users Easily Share Their Information With Doctors 

In the modern world of technology and medicine, many medical facilities have taken a digital approach to saving their patients information and medical history. Not only does this save paper, but it also makes it easy for doctors to see everything they need to know when you come to visit. 

Now, Apple has announced that with the new iOs 15 update this fall, some iPhone users will be able to send medical data directly from their Health app to their doctors electronic medical records systems. 

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The point of this update is to make it easier for patients who maybe have multiple doctors, are seeing a new physician, or just need to easily access and share their data. Libo Wang is a cardiology fellow who studies wearable technology and its potential health benefits. 

“The current workflow is mildly laborious, and requires the patient to email the pdf, and a clinician manually uploading that file to create a permanent record in the official electronic medical record.”

The new update will be collaborating directly with six electronic medical record companies in the US, including Cerner, which controls about a quarter of the market in the US. Apple says as the year progresses it will continue to add more companies to make sure as many iPhone users as possible have access to the feature if they want it. 

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The Health app data isn’t directly transferred into the electronic health records either, and instead doctors are able to see a window with the information, but the information won’t be permanently added to the record unless the patient gives their full consent. Additionally, if a user wants to stop sharing their information with a particular office, they can simply stop sharing and the information will immediately be removed from the health record. 

“Having secure ways to view and share this information in a clinical context has been helpful,” said Sam Lambson, vice president of interoperability at Cerner.

“It’s more and more common for patients to bring health data from their personal devices to health visits. Cerner is especially focused on efforts to incorporate that into its systems even outside of the new Apple program. One advantage of the Apple system is that it’s easy for doctors to use,” said Jessica Oveys, director of product management at Cerner.

“I think the key to it is certainly empowering and making the patient feel at the center and secure, and making it easy for them to share. But also, it’s really presenting the data in a way that’s actionable and relevant to the clinician,” she said.

Apple Addresses Privacy Concerns, Says Siri Will No Longer Send Requests To Main Servers 

Apple announced this week that they will no longer be using Siri to send requests to its servers as a means of speeding up how quickly the AI voice assistant is able to respond, as well as addressing multiple privacy concerns from users. 

It was revealed a couple of years ago that Apple’s staff regularly listens in on confidential details spoken to Siri while carrying out quality control for the assistant. The company made the announcement at their worldwide developers conference.

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“From this autumn onwards, Siri will proces audio on device, meaning that a majority of the queries won’t be recorded or uploaded to any of Apple’s servers.” 

“With on-device speech recognition, the audio of users’ requests is processed right on their iPhone or iPad by default. This addresses one of the biggest privacy concerns for voice assistants, which is unwanted audio recording. For many requests, Siri processing is also moving on device, enabling requests to be processed without an internet connection, such as launching apps, setting timers and alarms, changing settings or controlling music,” an Apple spokesperson said. 

Back in 2019 the Guardian published an investigative report that revealed “Siri ‘graders’ regularly heard confidential information as part of their job assessing the voice assistant’s responses for quality. The company apologized and, after a three-month pause to the grading program, allowed users to opt out of having their speech analyzed by humans.”

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Apple also announced that they would be introducing a slew of new privacy featured across all of its products to make users feel more secure in their experience using these devices. Mail Privacy Protection is being implemented to block emailers from tracking whether or not users open up an email and consume the content within it. 

Apple will also be making improvements to their FaceTime app as a means of competing with Zoom, Google Meet, and other digital forms of communication that are thriving in this pandemic world. 

Apple recently released a software update as well that forces every third-party app to ask for a user’s permission to be able to track what they do on their device. These tracking features are traditionally used by social media applications to track what kind of products you like so that they can make your advertisements more personalized. 

The goal of all of these updates is to give smart device users the comfort of knowing they are not constantly being tracked and watched by these major corporations. 

Medical Face Masks

CDC Says Vaccinated Individuals Can Go Without Masks Indoors And Outdoors 

The director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced this Thursday that people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 do not need to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors, except under certain circumstances. 

“If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic. We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy.”

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Dr. Rochelle Walensky called this an “exciting and powerful moment. The science supports the updated CDC guidance that anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing.” She cited three studies — one from Israel and two from the United States — that show vaccines work.

The Israeli study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and showed “the vaccine was 97% effective against symptomatic Covid-19 and 86% effective against asymptomatic infection in over 5,000 healthcare workers tested.” 

In the more than 117 fully vaccinated Americans there have been a small number of reports of breakthrough infections, however, Walensky noted that “the resulting infections are more likely to have a lower viral load, may be shorter in duration, and likely less risk of transmission to others.” 

People who are immunocompromised should still proceed with caution, and all mask mandates are still in effect for all forms of public transportation, including air travel. 

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“The past year has shown us that this virus can be unpredictable, so if things get worse, there is always a chance we may need to make a change to these recommendations. People who develop Covid-19 symptoms, even those who are vaccinated, should put their mask back on and get tested, Walensky said.

She explained how: “the science is clear, too, for unvaccinated people. You remain at risk of mild or severe illness, of death, or spreading the disease to others. You should still mask and you should get vaccinated right away. But once someone is fully vaccinated — two weeks after the final dose — you can shed your mask,” she said.

Some people may choose to continue wearing masks even if they are fully vaccinated, and that’s OK, federal Covid-19 response leaders said Thursday.

“People have to make their own personal choice,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during the White House Covid-19 briefing.

“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with an individual who has a certain level of risk aversion, as we know the risk is extremely low of getting infected whether you’re indoors or outdoors. But there are those people who don’t want to take that bit of a risk and there’s nothing wrong with that and they shouldn’t be criticized.”

Doctor Giving Coronavirus Vaccine

US Covid-19 Update: Vaccine To Be Approved Soon As Daily Death Rates Soar

The United States is likely to be celebrating a major milestone in the Covid-19 pandemic very soon, as the vaccine will likely be getting approved for emergency use very soon, and distribution can begin. The approval couldn’t come at a better time as the daily coronavirus death toll reached a record high of 3,124 this past Wednesday; surpassing the amount of American deaths that occurred on 9/11, and experts hear this is just the beginning of a massive final wave of infections. 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a composite forecast that projects the US hitting up to 362,000 Covid-19 deaths by January 2nd. Hospitalizations reached a record high this week as well with over 106,000 Covid-related cases. More than 221,000 infections were also reported in a single day, which according to former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, is just the beginning. 

“We are in a totally unprecedented health crisis in this country. The disease is everywhere — Midwest, West Coast, East Coast, North, South. Health care workers are exhausted. Hospitals are totally full.”

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Vaccine advisers working for the US Food and Drug Administration are currently meeting to discuss the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine and will hopefully grant emergency use authorization by the end of the week so that Americans can start being vaccinated by the end of the month. 

According to Sebelius, Covid-19 vaccines are a “really significant light at the end of the tunnel, but in the coming months it’s crucial that Americans stay vigilant and follow safety guidelines, like wearing face masks, social distancing and hunkering down in their social bubbles. We’ve got to take what we’ve learned in the last eight months and really put it into practice, so we don’t continue to have this unthinkable death toll and disease too.”

“Let’s say we get 80% of the population vaccinated. I believe if we do it efficiently enough, by the time we get to the end of the summer we may actually have enough herd immunity protecting our society through the end of 2021.”

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One big challenge that the US could face, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, is getting everyone to take the vaccine. As of right now there’s an underlying level of trust that a majority of the American people have seen the destruction and devastation this virus, and lack of political action, has taken on the country within the past year, which will then prompt them to take the vaccine. 

Federal, state, and local leaders are all doubling down on enforcing health and safety measures in their communities and will continue to do so even as the vaccine begins distribution. Another major fear that experts are concerned with is citizens thinking that just because they themselves are vaccinated, or the fact that people are being vaccinated in general, is enough for life to automatically return to normal. 

The reality is, we will likely have to be wearing masks and social distancing well into the end of 2021 based on how long it will take for enough of a herd immunity to be built in the US for all of us to be living our lives in close proximity without fear again. Within the next few weeks, it’s projected that about 20 million Americans will receive the PFizer vaccine. These individuals will likely all be healthcare industry workers or elderly people who are especially vulnerable to contracting Covid-19. 

In the UK thousands of individuals have already received the initial dose of the Pfizer vaccination, and Canada just approved it as well for emergency use authorization. The FDA is “not cutting any corners,” according to Fauci, before giving Pfizer the seal of approval, so for now, continue to listen to your healthcare providers and abide by all health and safety measures.

Thursday Morning Election Update: Final States Counting Their Ballots, Biden Still Leading In Electoral Votes

(9:13 a.m.) Two days after Election Day 2020 and ballots are still being counted in 6 key states that could give either presidential candidate a path to the White House. Joe Biden is currently leading in electoral votes with 253, while Trump has received 213. 

As of this morning, the race for the White House is still too close to call. Georgia, Nevada, and some officials from Arizona’s Maricopa County, the biggest in Arizona, all are expected to deliver press conferences today with news of their ballot counts. Georgia’s Secretary of State will be holding a conference at 10:30 a.m. ET.

Clark County, Nevada, which is where Las Vegas is located, is expected to deliver an update at Noon ET; the county has the largest number of votes in Nevada, Biden currently holds the lead in the state by 8,000 votes. Officials in Maricopa County are expected to deliver a conference at 9 p.m. ET, and tweeted that they had 275,000 ballots remaining overnight. 

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Democrats went to bed on Election Night with a bad feeling in their stomach but have been cautiously optimistic throughout the past two days as more and more absentee ballots began being counted and Biden’s numbers began to rise. However, both presidential candidates could still snag the presidency depending on how each state leans. Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, and Pennsylvania are the main ones that party operatives have been paying the closest attention to. 

As previously mentioned Biden currently holds a lead in Arizona and Nevada, but the margins are narrow. Experts, however, still aren’t sure if those margins are narrow enough to give Trump all the votes he needs to pass Biden. 

Most of this “cautious optimism” comes from Pennsylvania, a state that initially looked like it would be going right to Trump on Election Day, but now has experts unsure. 10% of the votes in Pennsylvania are yet to be counted within three suburban counties in Southeast Pennsylvania that are typically known to vote blue. 

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In Philadelphia alone, there are around 140,000 ballots remaining to be counted, and thousands of other mail-in votes from areas around the city also being counted still. “I know there is enough out there in the state as long as those trends continue, I believe personally, a margin that will carry Pennsylvania for the Vice President,” said Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman.

Georgia, like Arizona and Nevada, has been continuously getting closer and closer in terms of who’s leading. As of 9:40 a.m. ET this morning Trump holds a 20,000 vote lead with around 50,000 votes left to be counted, according to spokesperson for the Secretary of State Walter Jones. For democrats, they’ll have to look at Fulton and Dekalb counties which are still being counted as those also traditionally vote blue. 

If one thing is certain, every vote will be meticulously counted as we enter day three of election “purgatory” if you will. Joe Biden tweeted this morning that “Every vote must be counted” with a short video showing a slew of diverse individuals who voted.

Elder Woman Wearing Mask

Who’s At The Greatest Risk Of Experiencing ‘Long Covid’?

A recent study linked age and number of Covid-19 symptoms in a positive individual to longer-lasting health problems brought on by the virus. What they found specifically is that women aged 50-60 are at the greatest risk of developing “long Covid,” which is when positive Covid patients experience ongoing symptoms for weeks, or months, after they’ve already beat the virus and are considered to be negative. 

Dr Claire Steves and Professor Tim Spector at King’s College London led the study which analyzed data from 4,182 Covid Symptom Study App users who had been consistently logging their health status after testing positive for the virus. 

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In general, based on the App data, women were twice as likely to suffer from Covid-19 symptoms that lasted longer than a month when compared to men in the same age bracket, however, after the age of 60 everyone’s risk level is relatively the same; under the assumption that they don’t have any other underlying health conditions. 

Increased age was a general association that came along with the heightened risk levels for long Covid. 22% of people aged over 70 in the study reported suffering from symptoms for four or more weeks after their initial diagnosis. For comparison only 10% of individuals aged between 18 and 30-years-old reported the same experience. 

Gender differences only appeared for individuals aged between 50 and 60-years-old, where the data suggested a women’s risk was nearly double that of a man in the same age range. Professor Spector claims these results aren’t entirely surprising, as the same trend exists for autoimmune diseases in general in relation to how they impact men versus women of that age. 

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“Things like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus are two to three times more common in women until just before menopause, and then it becomes more similar. My guess is that gender differences in the way the immune system responds to coronavirus may account for this difference in risk.”

The study has also not been peer reviewed yet but it is available for viewing in preprint. The results also showed that individuals who experience five or more Covid-19 symptoms within their first week of developing the virus are at a heightened risk for experiencing long Covid symptoms as well. 

 “There’s certainly a group of long Covid sufferers that have this multi-system immune–like disease, where they get gastrointestinal problems, skin rashes, nerve problems and brain fog – so the whole body is involved rather than just one bit,” claimed Spector, who went on to explain that the immune system is likely working differently in individuals who experience these multiple body system symptoms. Those individual’s immune systems have to work a lot harder and for a lot longer to get the entire body back on track when compared to patients who contract the virus but only experience minimal to no symptoms. 

The study also suggested that individuals who have preexisting health conditions such as being medically overweight or having asthma and other respiratory diseases could increase ones risk to long Covid.

The Latest On Donald Trump’s Covid-19 Diagnosis

***Last Updated 10/5/2020 at 11:00 a.m.***

This past Friday President Donald Trump was hospitalized at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland after announcing that he had tested positive for Covid-19. Dr. Brian Garibaldi is a leader on Trump’s medical team who recently updated media outlets claiming that the president could be discharged from the medical center as early as Monday afternoon. 

On Saturday, Garibaldi claimed that Trump completed his second dose of redesivir and was feeling better by Sunday. Now, Trump is hoping to be discharged to complete his treatment in the White House. White House Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, recently claimed that the president could be released from the medical center after he consults with his doctors later Monday afternoon; which is also when his discharge decision will be made public. 

Trump received scrutiny on Sunday, however, after leaving the medical center with his security team so he could ride in an SUV past his supporters who were cheering him on outside the hospital. 

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The White House claims all “appropriate precautions” were taken before Trump went on the SUV ride, however Dr. James Phillips, an attending physician at Walter Reed, criticized the decision as something that could further endanger the lives of the Secret Service agents who accompanied the president, claiming that his “irresponsibility is astounding.”

On Sunday it was reported that the president’s oxygen levels had dropped for a second time since his diagnosis last Friday. Trump had also been receiving supplemental oxygen due to these dips, and was also given the corticosteroid drug dexamethasone. Dexamethasone is a widely available steroid that’s been used throughout this pandemic for patients on supplemental oxygen/ventilated individuals. 

When it comes to the president’s official release from the hospital, Rudy Giuliana claims that he will be waiting until his doctors actually give him the stamp of approval to do so. 

“He wants to get out. He sounds perfect. I just cautioned him to listen to his doctors. I said I hope that’s not your decision, it’s the doctors, He said ‘no no, these guys are great. I’ll do what they tell me.’”

After Trump’s brief trip out of the hospital to greet supporters, Giuliani admitted that the Secret Service would be at a greater risk protecting the president in the coming weeks, however, he also supported the decision on the basis that all parties involved were wearing masks at the time. 

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First lady Melania Trump also contracted the virus but has no plans of leaving the White House to continue out her treatments. Since her diagnosis Melania has quarantined in the Executive Residence in the White House and will be remaining there until it’s deemed safe for her to be around others again. The first lady has been relatively precautious when it comes to following Covid-19 procedures and has already cut back on all of her traveling plans/public appearances. 

When it comes to the pandemic in general, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, claims that there has never been a global health crisis to this degree before; for reference Fauci has worked on a number of other viral outbreaks in the past such as the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Ebola, and Zika virus. 

“We’re living in such a very divisive society right now that’s very charged politically. You always have a degree of that when you have outbreaks as we’ve been in the past but nothing to the intensity that we’re experiencing now with Covid-19.”

With one month left before the 2020 election, Trump and his team are also scrambling to manage catching up to Biden in the polls and maintaining a strong media presence despite the president’s now lack of ability to be around others. Ballots are currently already out in 35 states and with voting beginning in the swing states next week, there’s no way the president’s diagnosis mixed with his downplaying of the virus that has killed over 200,000 Americans won’t have an impact on voters. 

Since the announcement of Trump’s diagnosis Mike Pence and Joe Biden have both tested negative for the virus, however, both will have to continue to be tested daily along with a whole slew of other US political leaders who have been working with/around Trump and his team within the past few weeks. As of right now at least 10 people within Trump’s family, the US Government, and Trump’s circle of advisors have tested positive while 23 others within his inner circle have continued to test negative.

Vaccine in Doctors Hands

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The Oxford Vaccine Group has been tirelessly working on various drug treatment/vaccine options for the Covid-19 virus since the pandemic first emerged in early 2020.

Vaccine

Vladimir Putin Claims Russia Has Approved ‘World’s First’ Covid-19 Vaccine

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